Hello, my name is Random Granddaughter (you may call me “RG” for short) and I am here to present my grandparents’ three hens in this year’s County Fair “Chicken Olympics.” A few years ago, my grandparents attended a “Cat Olympics” at that year’s fair. My crazy Grandpa once asked me if my little cat Sylvie was doing what I told her to do, and I replied, “Kitty cats don’t do what you tell them to do.”

He said that showed I was very smart for a four year old girl to realize that. However, now he thinks his chickens will do what I tell them to do. That’s why I call him my “Crazy Grandpa.”

Anyway, Grandpa was not surprised when one of the cats went to sleep when it was asked to jump through a hoop.

OK, here are my grandparents’ chickens. First, I will present “Big Mama.” She lets me pick her up and pet her! She is a very smart chicken. Second she is eating lots of her very healthy well-balanced multi-grain chicken food. She is growing very big and strong and healthy.

Second I will present “Moll.” Moll is an excellent jumper. She will jump up on this table to get some oats. She thinks oats are like chicken candy.Moll has a lot of attitude. Little girl, sitting in the front row, please come up and hold out your hand to Moll. Look, she will peck you very hard! Little girl, you can stop crying now. How old are you? Four? Well, you should be a big girl now, and not cry so much just because a chicken pecked your finger. Well, maybe when you are six years old like me, you won’t be such a little crybaby.

Finally, I will present “Little Peep.” Little Peep is an introvert and does not like people looking at her. That is why she is hiding in the corner. Little Peep is also an omnivore. She especially likes meat. She is also an excellent hunter. She catches a lot of imaginary bugs. Look at her running around the stage pecking at imaginary bugs!

But I also brought her some real bugs. Perhaps some of the children in the audience would like to help me feed bugs to Little Peep. Here, hold out your hand, and I will put some “rolly pollies” in your hand. My grandpa says they’re called “sow bugs.” Now here are some ants. And here are some termites. Grandma gets very excited when she sees them around the house, so she is very happy when she sees Little Peep eating termites. And here is an earwig–Little Peep thinks they are especially good–look how she gobbles it up!

All the chickens like clover a lot also. Because they have been such good chickens, I am going to give them a bunch of clover leaves. Grandpa says to me, “Look how the chickens eat all these different foods, RG. You should stop being so fussy about your food and try a little of everything.”

Did I mention before that I consider him my Crazy Grandpa. I have five grandmas and four grandpas, but he is the only really crazy one.

As we were getting ready to leave to see the mommies and Random Granddaughter, I noticed a distressed look on my wife’s face. When I queried her, she said, “I feel like I am going to throw up. I do not want to make anyone sick. You go. I will stay home.”

When I got to the mommies, RG was talking on the phone. Mommy (my daughter’s partner and RG’s birth mother) said, “She is talking to her dad. He is Amsterdam with his mom.”

RG has flown to Virginia and to Chicago, but not to Europe. Mommy said, “Dad keeps threatening to take her to Europe.” I am sure when that day occurs, RG will take Europe by storm as she has America.

Mama (my daughter) stayed upstairs and studied her calculus and statistics for her graduate school class. She explained what she is studying a little bit. I tried to look alert and comprehending, much as Sylvie, the mommies’ adorable cat, tries to loot alert and comprehending when we explain to her when she wants to go outside that she can’t because the raccoons and the coyotes who live in the city will eat her.

Mommy and RG and I went to the Arboretum to feed the ducks. The mommies are very nutrition conscious, so we didn’t bring stale white bread. RG had a bag of organic oats. RG threw oats at the ducks. It is hard to read the expression on a duck’s face, but I suspect the ducks’ faces said, “We would like stale white bread crumbs just as well, thank you.”

We then walked for a bit and then RG spied something interesting on the shore of a lagoon. We went to examine it. “That’s a dead beaver,” said Mommy.

RG stared at the dead beaver for quite a while with interest. I didn’t tell her that the dead beaver’s name, when alive, was “Existential Dilemma.” Or perhaps it was “I build dams, damn it!”

We then returned to the small house in the medium-sized city. As Mommy fixed us a nice lunch, she told me that her mother, who is 69, has arrhythmia in her heart. She is not in any danger of dying immediately, but the doctors have been inserting tubes up into her heart and trying to get it to beat in the proper rhythm. The process in very painful and uncomfortable.

My cousin Julie told me that my Aunt Henriette was told she needs an operation on her heart. Henriette has always believed that good nutrition and exercise would help her live forever, but she has agreed to have the operation. Her son Carl, who has been very estranged from his mother, is flying out to be with her. He has no money, so Julie is paying for his plane trip. (She calls it a loan, but I doubt that she is holding her breath waiting for repayment).

I try to be very nice to my daughter and her partner and that she will be able to afford the ferry trip to visit us when the time comes. At the moment, my blood sugar is at an acceptable level, and my blood pressure is at a good level as well, and my heart goes into the training level on the treadmill fairly readily, but one never knows.

Weekend Plans

October 7, 2009

This weekend  we will babysit Random Granddaughter so the mommies can go out for a night. The advantage seems to be that we will do it for free and can be trusted with her.

We also are trying to get together with Mary from Peru, though we are having difficulty reconciling schedules.

I looked for Peruvian restaurants, thinking we could take Mary to lunch and she could discuss Peruvian cuisine with us. The good news is that there actually was a Peruvian restaurant near where she lives and works. The bad news is that it has been closed because of the building being remodeled. The good news is that it may open again some day in a new building.

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. We look forward to seeing RG and having her tell us what she is doing in kindergarten and to seeing Sylvie as well, though she is getting kind of old for a cat.

I am allergic to cats, though my allergies seem to have lessened as I get older. My wife, who was not allergic to cats, has developed allergies as she gets older.

I am considering getting a Siberian forest cat. This breed seems to create fewer allergic reactions in humans than most other types of cats. There is a breeder in Albany, Oregon. I figure we would have to spend a week petting and testing one of their kittens to see if we could safely adopt one.

As I get older and feebler, it seems to me that it would be nice to be able to sit with a cat in my lap and pet it and listen to it purr.

If I suggest this scheme to my wife, she will immediately tell me it is a very bad idea and we will have a big fight over it.

After gecko time, RG felt ready for lunch (though I suspect food finicky RG wasn’t much taken with the gecko’s ideas of divine cuisine). She put on her shoes again, gathered her pack, and we walked to the food circus.

On the way in, she looked at the snacks and asked for a package of “Sun Chips.” I said, “Let’s eat the lunch you brought, first.” She ate her sandwich and about half of her yogurt and strawberries in a calm, levelheaded way. Then after I put her leftovers away, she said, “I am still hungry.”

I said, “So now you want some junk food?”

She said, “Sun chips are not junk food.” I thought that was a sensible answer and that she had done what I had asked her to do in a reasonable way, so I gave her enough money to buy herself a package of chips.

The weather was not good, but we walked around some exhibits. RG especially wanted to see the lions, but the lions were not entranced by NW weather and were hiding somewhere out of sight. Eventually we entered an exhibit of exotic ducks that seemed happy enough in the NW rain and wind. A zoo keeper was feeding the ducks and talking to visitors about their ducky African lifestyles. She offered RG some duck food so she could help out with feeding the ducks. RG gravely threw duck food to a variety of ducks.

At that point, we decided to head back home. RG first indicated that she wanted another snack after she got home. Everyone has learned that if RG goes too long without sustenance, she becomes cranky, so we take her requests for snacks with great seriousness, though her snack food plan diet is built like her towers of blocks;  perhaps also suffering from a tendency to tilt and then fall in comparison to the diets shown on “balanced food group,” diets. For that matter, so do my mixed metaphors.

RG then looked at me and said, “I am not going to take a nap” and awaited my reaction with an interested look. I have been aware that RG is carefully analyzing lines of authority. In fact earlier that morning, she had said to me, “Mommy is in charge of this house. Mama is also in charge of this house. And I am also in charge of this house.”

Delving into international relations, she continued: “Grandma is in charge of your house. You are also in charge of your house.” I could see that RG was carefully analyzing how a feminist society will be run. I have also been aware that she is thinking through whether Grandpa really has any authority to tell her what to do. Random Granddaughter may have some genes from Robespierre, Trotsky, Lenin, Castro, or Guevara in her genetic heritage, as she is often staging serious revolts. Although various rebellions against mommies have been brutally suppressed, and she knows better than to take on Grandma, she definitely considers a coup against Grandpa in the realm of possibility.

I have been trying to finesse my way out of an all out war, so I ignored her comment. As we walked on the way out of the zoo, we passed a building. RG said, “Let’s go in there.”

Next: RG Discovers Consumerism

Pass Me Your Medicare Card

November 29, 2008

When I was a kid, my best friends Frankie, Scotty, Kenyon and I would go to the high School football field a few blocks from our homes in the small town of Brea in Orange County, California to play a pickup football game.In our huddle of two, Scotty would say to me, “Hike to me on the count of three, run about five yards and turn to the right.” I would clumsily hike it over Scotty’s head and try to block Frankie. After cursing me for my terrible hike, Scotty would run back and pick up the rolling ball one step ahead of the pursuing Frankie . In the meantime, I would run a few steps forward; Kenyon would bump me to interfere with the pass. As Frankie grabbed him in the backfield, Scotty would desperately hurl the ball in the air in my direction. Kenyon and I would both fight for the wobbly ball and after we both batted the ball around clumsily, we would  we would all fall to the ground without catching the ball.
None of us made the junior high football team. None of us made the senior high football team. I did not make the college football team. I did not become a NFL player; I suspect none of my friends did either.
Not only did I lack the Terminator brawn, speed, and coordination required to be a professional football player, I also lacked the cyborg brain power to understand the complexity of NFL plays. It’s no wonder that scores of NFL football players in their spare time are taking MBA-level business classes at Harvard Business School, Wharton, and similar distinguished university business schools. Anyone who can understand a NFL playbook is probably more than competent to run the typical American investment bank.

As my wife has already stopped working for a paycheck at the age of 62, and as I will retire at the end of January, we are enrolling in Medicare, and making choices for Medicare A (hospital insurance), Medicare B (medical insurance), and deciding whether we want to sign up for Part D, the Medicare prescription drug program. We’re not sure whether there is an advantage to signing up for Part C, the Medicare Advantage plan. There may be a benefit to signing up for my retirement health plan, instead of going to a Medigap program. My wife is considering a Catastrophic Coverage program, but could for more money become a dependant on my retirement program. The above information covers perhaps page 1 of the 30-page handbook we received to help us figure out our choices.

Last night, after a pleasant and healthfully spare Thanksgiving dinner for two of turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, peas grown in our garden, and for dessert, pumpkin pie made from a squash grown in our garden (which this year overran the zucchini from outer space in a one sided triumph of Mothra over Godzilla) , we gave thanks to each other for reaching 43 years of marriage without killing each other. (Monday was the official anniversary day).

Although we have been studying Medicare materials in bewilderment for weeks, after dinner we began reviewing everything one more time to prepare ourselves for a counseling session scheduled for Friday morning (this morning).By the time we went to bed, we were indeed close to killing each other once more.

When we met with Jack, the volunteer for the state who taught the seminar we had already attended and conducted our individual counseling session, we learned that he is neither an NFL player nor a marriage counselor, though he told us the prescriptions that keep him alive cost over $10,000 a year, only a small portion of which is covered by his Medicare drug prescription coverage.

In any case his training as a volunteer seemed equivalent to going through a NFL training camp; his experience as an elderly person who has survived serious illnesses seems equivalent to being a quarterback who has survived blitzes and sacks by NFL linebackers.

As we went through the meeting and listened to his counsel, we concluded that the choices we were making after hours of reading, listening, and study seemed reasonable and affordable (once we get used to our retirement menu of organic carrots and potatoes from the ground, organic apples from our tree, and cat food we sneak from Sylvie’s dish while Random Granddaughter is distracting her) and that the decisions most in dispute seemed headed for peaceful resolution after no more than three or four hundred more phone calls.


I left one last message on Angelica’s voice mail. Since we never seem to get close enough to her to give her any money, I can not figure out how her elusive behavior can be a scam. My conclusion is that she is a flake and that David’s advice (from whichever alter is offering the advice) to kick her to the curb is sensible.

She has until Sunday morning to call us. I fear for the future of Chile and I am sighing at starting over from scratch on Craig’s List.




The Scheharazade Pledge

October 18, 2008

To summarize the premiums in David’s pledge drive so far:

For $1 I will ask Random Granddaughter to thank you as she eats a wholesome snack. Perhaps a sesame seed stick. And a brownie for fluffy.

I will also ask Sylvie, the universe’s most lovable cat. to purr for you as I pet her. Sylvie and fluffy purring together should create a mighty roar.

These premiums are only good until November 11, when I will be taking care of RG and visiting Sylvie at the same time.

You also get a coupon good for $1 off a Pledge product. I don’t know how long that premium will be available, so I suggest you go to the Pledge web site and take advantage of it.

On public radio pledge drives, some people actually make $100 pledges. On this drive, I doubt that David will open an envelope some day and find it stuffed with 100 $1 bills. For one thing, the postage would add up. And how many people have one one hundred dollar bill sitting around saying, “Mail me to David!” so I doubt that condensed method will work, either.

So pledges and collections will have to be based on money accumulating a little at a time. About $5 at time feels right to me, as that is what I did. (I mailed $5 to David last week.)

I figure it will take to the end of the year for us to reach a hundred dollars, and the premium will have to be collective to everyone who contributes.

Also, the premium I am envisioning depends on David cooperating. I am something of an expert on this topic. I am married to a person whose personality is much like David’s.

My wife hates having anybody else-especially her husband-tell her what to do. It seems quite likely David is similar. Though I am not his husband, but you get the point, I trust.

Nevertheless, I will run it up the flagpole.

David has been reluctant to talk to Debbie, his therapist, about his continual thinking and scheming about committing suicide. When the pledgeware contributions actually accumulate to $100, I think as a premium, David should actually talk to Debbie about the topic of his suicidal thinking.

This is a high risk premium. Instead of talking about this issue, David may decide to actually end his life.That would certainly teach his therapist a lesson, not to mention us.

While this would perhaps bring a brief, intense thrill to the rest of us, I don’t think this is an option likely to lead to long term satisfaction.

Well, there’s nothing to do but plod ahead. Send in your dollar, or five dollars to David.

The address for your contributions is

“David Rochester”

4803 SE Woodstock, #202
Portland OR 97206

David is standing by waiting to open your envelope. Consider it this way, as long as there is an expectation of an envelope arriving the next day to open with money inside, David may choose to live another day. If each person reading this has a blog and has an interesting tale to tell on your blog for David to read, that offers another incentive to David to live. Perhaps I will call this the Scheharazade Pledge.

Pledge Premiums

October 17, 2008

Typical pledge drives have premiums. Subscribe to your public television station and we will send you a DVD of the most boring public television talking heads since 1950. (This fits my Headless Horseman theme.)

Not to be outdone, your public radio station offers Polka Haunt US: A spook-tacular Compilation. This is an actual CD, also available in MP3. Whatever happened to MP1 and MP2 and when do we get MP4? Well, never mind. Anyway this album is described thus:

“A compilation of different sub-genres of polka, coupled unexpectedly with various genres of World Music- from Klezmer to Folk; Metal to Country; Asian to Reggae, each song based on different spooky stories from around the globe.”

For a donation of $100, your public radio station will agree not to send this CD to your house and not to download the MPwhatever# to your computer.

So what are the premiums for David’s pledge drive?

On November 11, as I babysit Random Granddaughter, I will feed her snacks in your honor. Although David frets, “”Especially if RG eats the snack without complaint,” do not yourself fret. RG intends to live on snacks all her life. It is meals, such as family dinners, where RG whines to beat the band. Believe me; I will not try to dedicate dinner in your honor because I do not want to leave you cursed for life.

Also, as I pet Sylvie, my daughter’s small black with a little white cat, the most affectionate, kind, and lovable feline in the universe, who let RG pull her fur without complaining or scratching many times when RG was an infant, and who now lets RG carry her around like a lump of play-dough with nary a meow of complaint, and who sits in the lap of any stranger without demur and immediately starts purring, I will tell her to purr at the mention of your name. You will feel good Katma-Karma entering your bone marrow immediately the minute David opens the envelope and touches the money.

But that’s not all. THERE’S EVEN MORE!

I will offer you a coupon for $1 off any Pledge product if you pledge $1 to my pledge drive. Just click to take advantage of this special offer. (Don’t mention it to the SC Johnson company. I made this arrangement with a secret mole within the company. Official spokespeople will deny the SC Johnson Company has anything to do with my pledge drive. Whom do you believe: a large well-known international consumer products company or a guy on the Internet who calls himself “Random Name?”)


In fact, Pledge has a new product: Pledge® Protection Plus+

This product is very special. As the company informs us:

Adds a protective barrier so messes don’t stick

Three times easier to clean up compared to surfaces not treated with Pledge® Protection Plus+

Helps protect against spills, stains, and everyday wear

Removes up to 84% of allergens from dust mites and pet dander found in dust

No waxy buildup

As David is touch-phobic, perhaps you might want to send him a container of Pledge Protection Plus Plus. That way he can be especially sure no one gets close to him. And he will have no waxy buildup, despite all the virtual hugs caring readers of his blog sends him.

In my next report, I will tell you about the $100 pledge level premium.

Christmas Eve Dramas

January 1, 2008

I won’t say that Random Granddaughter’s dinner drama ruined eve of Christmas Eve dinner, but it did put a bit of a damper on the occasion.

The next morning she woke up ebullient and full of enthusiasm. It is remarkable what a night’s sleep will do to recharge the batteries of a three-year-old child. It’s not quite as potent a refresher for a 63-year-old not very grown up, but it helps some.

For breakfast, Grandma served waffles and sausages. She provided a topping made from fresh cranberries for the waffles. RG found the breakfast more to her liking and ate some of everything provided cheerfully enough.

I think it’s reasonable to describe RG as a drama queen. It’s probably appropriate for a three-year-old (of either sex) to be a drama queen, and food is a good theme for great dramatic scenes for young children (and not-so-young children of all ages) as my readers’ comments illustrate.

After breakfast, we went for a walk. RG went happily running ahead of everybody along the private gravel road until she tripped and fell on her face in the gravel. Fortunately her good looks were not seriously damaged, but she did have an opportunity to howl for a while.

It is my family’s habit not to exchange gifts at Christmas, but we are not obsessive about the policy. Although not wrapped or presented as a gift, the barn with the little animals was sort of a Christmas present for Random Granddaughter.

Before they headed home, RG provided some small presents (wrapped and provided by mommies) to Grandma and Grandpa. One of the mommies mentioned there were Christmas gifts for RG under the Christmas tree at home. It became apparent that RG was expecting to open the Christmas presents on Christmas night. She was not happy when informed she would not get to open them until the next morning (Christmas morning).

“I can’t wait,” RG lamented. A mommy told her that waiting made the gift more exciting, and explanation RG greeted with an expression I would describe as More insane stuff adults tell me with a straight face.

RG has not really learned yet to be acquisitive about material items, so I interpreted her frustration as wanting to have the excitement of opening packages rather than the excitement of adding something to her collection of material items.

[When I stopped by her house a few days after Christmas I learned this interpretation is probably true. RG’s favorite presents this year were some Dr. Seuss books provided by another grandma. She also got some new boots from yet another relative that Mommy thought were very fine but did not provoke much excitement on RG’s part. “They were brown,” said Mommy. “If they had been ‘hot pink,’ it would have been another matter.” That perhaps indicates RG is on the right track for her future as a teenager. In any case, Mommy did agree that opening packages was the main source of excitement for Christmas morning.]

Grandma Random is always worried that RG will be bored when she comes to visit us. It occurs to me that on each visit we should provide a brightly colored package for her to open. The package would be empty, of course, but I could provide her with homilies about the destination being more important than the journey, for example.

For a while, I used a little laser light as a toy to amuse Sylvie, my daughter’s little cat. Sylvie would chase the laser light frantically for a minute or so, and try to capture the little red beam with her paw, and then a little light bulb would go on in her head, and she would say to herself in cat language, There’s no there, there, and she would stop chasing the laser light.

I imagine Sylvie and RG could have a pertinent discussion about Grandpa and his crazy ideas about ways to amuse them.

My granddaughter recently told Mommy (her birth mother and my daughter’s Out of Law partner) that she is almost grown up and should be allowed to decide more things for herself. This indicates to me that she is three years old going on 15.

That was a few weeks ago. More recently, my wife sent RG some stickers. For a preschooler, getting some stickers in the mail is like for an adult getting some bags of gold dust or small diamonds in the mail. Not quite like winning the lottery, but pretty good. I don’t know what winning the lottery would be like for a preschooler—perhaps learning that you inherited Disneyland.

Last weekend, we found a phone message on our voice mail from Random Granddaughter. It wasn’t entirely clear to us what she was saying, but it did indicate she wanted us to call.

I called yesterday from my job. As we were having our second windstorm/power outage on the island, my wife didn’t get around to giving RG a call.

I called during RG’s nap. Mommy indicated she would have RG call me after she awoke and recovered from waking up. About four or so I received a call. Her telephone skills have progressed quite a bit from “Hello,” and “Hello, Grandpa.” Now she delivers messages of some complexity and thoughtfulness over the telephone. I often can’t understand them, but I can tell that they are complex and thoughtful by the serious and portentous way in which she delivers them.

I did ask her how Sylvie (my Barely Extended Family’s small cat) is doing. RG told me, “Sylvie did not go outside the gate.”

“Is Sylvie being a good cat?” I asked.

“Yes, Sylvie is a good cat,” said RG.

“Do you tell Sylvie what she should do and not do?” I asked.

“Yes, I tell Sylvie what do,” said RG.

“Does she listen to you?” I asked.

“Kitty cats don’t listen to people,” said RG.

Only three years old, and she has already discovered some of the major laws of nature, I thought with admiration.

Eventually, Mommy came back on the line. “RG went down with me and we got our flu shots,” she told me.

She went on. “She didn’t cry or anything. In fact, she just held her arm out with a nonchalant expression for her shot.”

“That’s very impressive,” I said.

Mommy said, “She doesn’t say much more about it, but it’s clear now that almost every action she takes is to show us how grown up she is, and how she doesn’t need us to decide much more for her.”

I thought about this. A three year old child who doesn’t cry or even wince when a doctor sticks a needle in her arm because she wants to show she is a grown up. What kind of child is this? What kind of calculations are going through that little mind?

Her Mommy is not named “Rosemary.” Her Mommy says that her best friend, Mia, is probably more intelligent than she is. Mia’s mommy is not named “Rosemary” either.

I am going to visit RG this weekend. This may be the most frightening child in America. If not the most frightening child, the second-most frightening child, in close communication with the most frightening child in America.

If you don’t hear from me by next week, send out a search party.

I hope to be a humorist when I grow up. As I am now 13 years old in terms of my psychological and emotional development, but 63 years old in terms of my chronological development, this goal presents problems, though they may at times be funny problems.

I figure I have to pay attention to what makes people laugh, especially 3-year-old people.

Perhaps I can break into comedy by working night clubs for 3-year-olds.

Perhaps I can use Sylvie, my daughter’s small black cat with a little white, as a comedy partner.

Last night, Random Granddaughter was upstairs at her little house in the medium-sized city with Mommy getting ready for bed. All of a sudden, I heard RG laughing hysterically, for quite a long time.

I went up to investigate. Mommy had been saying to RG, “Time to put on your pajamas.” Mommy held out the pajamas to RG.

At that moment, Sylvie, as a very busy little cat, thought of an important errand to do downstairs. She dashed for the stairs, running straight into the pajamas, yanking them out of Mommy’s hands so that they covered her. Sylvie did not stop. A ball of pajamas with a little cat inside dashed downstairs, as a hysterically laughing little girl and her Mommy watched from the top of the stairs.

I’m not sure this works in print. However, when the cat-animated pajamas become a spectacularly successful series on Saturday-morning television, remember you read about it here first.

However, for this series to succeed, we will have to get the star to perform on demand every week. I don’t know about this. Pajamas are very moody and temperamental performers.